Women’s health insurance has always struggled to find balance between affordability and quality coverage. Over 90% of individual health insurance plans charge women higher premiums than men for equal coverage according to Michelle Andrews’ article on NPR.org. This practice is known as gender rating and has been considered acceptable for years, but this is to change with the implementation of health care reform, set to start in 2014.
A recent report from the National Women’s Law Center calculated that women spend over $1 billion more a year on their health insurance premiums when compared to men. This shocking statistic lends the question of whether or not this is fair. Health insurance companies argue that women’s health care costs are typically higher, due in part to maternity health related costs. Gender rating will be banned starting in 2014 under health care reform and many women are happy to hear this. Surprisingly, about 65% of people are unaware of this provision in the Affordable Care Act based on a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s April health tracking poll. There needs to be more education available to Americans to truly understand how health care reform will affect their lives.
Health care reform will still allow health insurance rates to be based on four main factors. These factors are family vs individual enrollment options, age of applicant, location of applicant and whether or not the applicant smokes. The new formula could dramatically change the way health insurance rates are charged and some people may see rates decrease, including women. What will this mean for men? Some men may end up paying more to balance out the change. The poll shows about 60% of people favor the new provision, feeling that it levels the playing field for paying premiums.